Tag Archives: Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Learning

#SOL17:  Structure


I had to go back. my fifth time to reread the opening chapter.  This is the first paragraph:

” She stood at the window of the Manhattan apartment, peeking through a slit In the drapes. Her hands trembled.”

I knew the “she” was Gabriela. That was obvious from the first reading. But what did I know about Gabriela. Or more importantly, what had I MISSED about Gabriela?

MY task . . . Self-imposed . . . To make sense of Jeffery Deaver’s The October List. 

I had already read the preview on my kindle. I was going to check the library for a print version, but there it was at eye level at the Dollar Store with a $3 yellow sticker.

The inside flap:

“Gabriela waited desperately for news of

Her abducted daughter.

At last, the door opens.

But it’s not the negotiators.

It’s not the FBI.

It’s the kidnapper

And he has a gun.”

How did Deaver create suspense?

He chose Structure.

He began with the ending and went backwards one scene at a time.

As a reader, I had to figure out which details were important in the past and where were the red herrings that led me off the path? Rocket science? No! BUt I was reading this book as I began Vicki Vinton’s,  Dynamic Teaching for Deeper Learning, and I did not want to merely read it as a “plot junkie” as mentioned in chapter five.  I wanted to consider HOW I deliberately made sense of this text in order to better inform my reader lay self (and perhaps borrow the idea for a longer writing task).

I started a list. Basic jots of key details.

I wished for a talking partner to share ideas.

I made some oral notes on my phone.

I began to look for patterns.

How much time and how many chapters elapsed between key details?

Tally marks were replaced with questions

And then with possible solutions.

But how could they be solutions when I already knew the ending?

Events revealed.

Important?

Too soon to know.

But the compelling story line . . .

Two days,

A mother, a kidnapped six year old daughter,

A half million dollar ransom

And “The October List” to be delivered within 30 hours

OR . . .

Narrative Structure?

Typical structures include:

Plot Line

Story Arc

Story Map

Sequential

Flashback

Episodic

Scene by scene

Beginning, Middle, End

How does an author decide?

And even more importantly, how does a reader make sense of the structure?

What works for you?

And thanks to fellow slicer”Arjeha”, I already knew the key to the Structure, but not the key to the kidnapping!  Check out additional slices at TwoWritingTeachers.wordpress.com

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

#DigiLitSunday: Critical Thinking


 

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Additional posts at Reflections on the Teche

So I had a week’s worth of thinking about this topic after Margaret Simon proposed it last week in a response to my blog here. But this quote really caused me to pause yesterday. “Critical thinking” is a buzz word; what does it really mean?

blog-critical-thinking

. . . “not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.”

In the field of education and state standards, Iowa was the LAST state in 2008 to adopt state standards for all students in Iowa because of our much lauded “local control”.  So when I look for “critical thinking” I rely on the 21st century standards that are in addition to the literacy standards that apply for all content areas.

“The reality of building capacity for the 21st century is that we do not know what the work of the future will be like (Darling-Hammond, 2007) or how technology will influence health and financial issues. The challenge is to prepare students to think critically, to engage in mental activity, or habits of mind, that “…use facts to plan, order, and work toward an end; seek meaning or explanations; are self-reflective; and use reason to question claims and make judgments…” (Noddings, 2008). It may be that our task is not only to prepare students to “fit into the future” but to shape it. “…If the complex questions of the future are to be determined… by human beings…making one choice rather than another, we should educate youths – all of them – to join in the conversation about those choices and to influence that future…” (Meier, 2008).”

This challenge continues to be hard work. “To think critically”, “to engage in mental activity” and “…use facts to plan, order, and work toward an end; seek meaning or explanations; are self-reflective; and use reason to question claims and make judgments…”  Those quotes are hard to define, explain, teach and even harder to assess.

What does “critical thinking” look like in a classroom?

Well, the easiest answer is to go directly to Vicki Vinton’s post today.  Yes, NOW!  Stop.  Go read it.  Then come back.  THAT post is all about critical thinking!  Is that the work that your fifth graders are doing?  Is that the work that your high school students are doing?

In the spirit of full disclosure,

that is work that I NEVER did even in college.

I seem to be saying that a lot lately.  Maybe I went to the wrong school.  Maybe I was educated in the wrong era.  Maybe I was never “pushed” to go beyond the literal.  Maybe I was not really paying attention.  Maybe I never had to do any critical thinking in school.  YEP, I was thinking, without a single clue of HOW to be thinking!

This might have been a school’s approach to “Critical Thinking” in the past. . .

critical-thinking

or still in the present. You be the judge!

Has it been effective?

When problem solving is a part of the critical thinking conversation the water may be muddied as the two are not necessarily the same.

critical-thinking-two

Nevertheless, critical thinking will be required of all our students in their lifetime.  They need the best preparation for life possible and that DOES include learning to read and understand at deep levels as well as a call to action to solve problems and think of creative solutions.  Critical thinking does require a variety of skills as shown in this graphic.

critical-thinking-three

And unfortunately, we will continue to expect folks to use all of these critical thinking skills to process driving situations, TV commercials, and yes, printed text almost simultaneously.  In order to be able to do this efficiently and effectively, our students will need a lot of practice.

How will you continue to define and study your own knowledge base of “critical thinking”?

When do you use “critical thinking” in your life?

How do you model, plan for, and provide time for critical thinking in your classroom?

critical-thinking-four

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